So, kick the extra point and go to overtime, right?
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio had a different plan. He opted to attempt a two-point conversion with the potential to win the game in regulation.
Did Del Rio make the correct decision?
Based on ESPN’s win probability model, the Raiders would have had a 51 percent chance to win if they kicked the extra point and a 44 percent chance to win if they attempted the two-point conversion.
That assumes that teams make extra points 95 percent of the time and convert the two points at a rate of 48 percent, which is based on NFL averages over recent years. The Raiders would have had to convert their conversions at a rate of 56 percent for it be a break-even proposition.
So Del Rio took a risk -- one that the numbers do not necessarily support -- but it ended well for the Raiders. Each two-point attempt is different, so maybe he thought the Raiders could score on the Saints’ porous defense or that his team was particularly efficient on two-point tries. The Raiders had made one earlier in the quarter, giving them as many as they had all of last season.
Nonetheless, Oakland converted the two-point attempt on a fade in the back of the end zone to Michael Crabtree. After converting, the Raiders had a 91 percent chance to win and were able to hold off Drew Brees’ drive that resulted in a missed 61-yard field goal attempt.
The Raiders are the first team to score a go-ahead two-point conversion in the final minute of the fourth quarter since the Broncos did it against the Chargers in Week 2 of the 2008 season.
The play was also not the first time the Saints have lost when a team decided to go for two points in the last minute of regulation. In Week 15 of 2002, the Vikings scored to pull within one on a Daunte Culpepper-to-Randy Moss touchdown and then converted the two for the win.
The Raiders took a risk, but it paid off.